Newscorp general manager ‘gave story to Robert Peston’ and cleared way for Jeremy Hunt – despite Barclay Bros having spiked Holly Watt scoop
The man scared to death by the 300 ‘Royals’ emails given to Harbottle & Lewis was today at the centre of Hackgate events. US gumshoe firm Kroll Associates, hired by the Telegraph, have this morning (EDT) named him as the leaker of the ‘Vince Cable out to get Murdoch’ story to the BBC’s Robert Peston.
As The Slog reported last February, Vince Cable’s illegally taped “I’m declaring war on Rupert Murdoch” faux pas was nevertheless spiked by Maily Telegraph owners the Barclays of Sark…who quite correctly saw that it would lose Business Minister Vince Cable his job on the BSkyB deal referral…and most likely wind up putting a pro-Murdoch Minister in the position instead. This is precisely what happened after, mysteriously, the story popped up under Robert Peston’s byline at the BBC. Furious, the Barclays called in top private dick Jules Kroll to find who had leaked the yarn to Sleepy Peston.
For those still catching up, bear with me. The Mail boat-people having arrived on board the Daily Telegraph in force, Will Lewis found himself with not much of a job and jumped ship to News International. Once there (and perhaps soon aware that a lot of funny business had been going on prior to his arrival) Lewis was made keenly aware that giving help to the BSkyB bid’s smooth transition into full takeover would do his career no harm at all. Suddenly a story that shopped the avowedly anti-Murdoch Business Minister plopped into his lap. It couldn’t be seen to come from Newscorp (and indeed, him) so he passed it on to his mate Peston. (Peston and Lewis are close-neighbour Muswell Hillbillies).
Anyway, the Barclays now know that it was fresh-faced Will who got the story placed in the public domain; and it seems they also know who leaked it to him at the Telegraph – but they’re keeping mum on that one. However, The Slog understands this person also now works for Newscorp in the UK.
Of course, Lewis has done nothing illegal here: the story gave him some nicely ambient revenge on the Gallagher* Telegraph mob who eased him out. But it’s probably going to destroy his relationship with Torygraph Group Chairman Aidan Barclay, who had a very high regard for him.
However, it puts Will Lewis at the top of the list of those who got Vince Cable out of the way in favour of Jeremy Hunt.
What’s more, Lewis’s actions here being that of a normal, vengeful human being, it gives a new perspective to the Harbottle & Lewis trail of wriggly slimey things – which he pretty much kicked off on his arrival in Wapping. And it also throws a long-awaited spotlight on the surveillance activities of the shady Barclay empire.
* Tony Gallagher is a former Daily Mail senior journo now editing the Daily Telegraph